Design codes need review: MacTiernan

PLANNING and Infrastructure Minister Alannah MacTiernan has called for a review of the residential design codes and flagged the adoption of a national approach to develop a sustainablity best practice assessment scorecard. 

In her address to last week’s national HIA planning conference, Building GreenSmart communities, Ms MacTiernan said an additional 700,000 people would be living in the Perth metropolitan area within the next 25 years.

She said a consolidation of the city was required to balance up inner suburbs and ageing outer suburbs with the rapid growth in the southeast corridor.

“The problem is that planning rules don’t provide the best fit. The R-codes are more focused on privacy rather than efficiency,” Ms Mac-Tiernan said.”

She was also concerned that each State government around Australia was developing its own sustainablity scorecard rather than working collectively. 

The WA Government was currently considering adopting the sustainablity assessment criteria developed by the New South Wales State Government.

Urban sprawl would continue to be a problem for State governments, according to planning and research analyst Macroplan Australia managing director Bruce Haratis.

Mr Haratis said despite the policy and industry push for more medium density dwellings, and a growing awareness of sustainable housing in the market, people would continue to want to live on the urban fringe. This would increase pressure on the environment and social infrastructure.

In his presentation at the conference, Mr Haratis said market research revealed that baby boomers wanted to move outward not inward and that sustainable housing did not rank among top 10 factors people considered when making housing decisions.

According to Macroplan research safety and security, public transport and medical facilities were the top three factors that attracted people to residential locations.

“Green, sustainable and bio-diversity are low-level house choice drivers and are marginally more important to people than freeways,” Mr Haratis said.

He said rather than high-rise apartment developments, the rapidly growing grey population was looking for lifestyle and was selling up the family home and moving to smaller, more affordable dwellings on the urban fringes.

“Within the baby boomers there is a trade-down cash-in affect occurring,” Mr Haratis said.

Dale Alcock Homes managing director Dale Alcock said consumers wanted green solutions in their housing provided there were no added costs. 

Mr Alcock said sustainablity regulations only applied to new homes, which were a small percentage of the total housing stock, and the existing house stock also needed to come under some type of regulation.

He said that if the industry was to truly become more sustainable, house size needed to be examined.

“I believe the houses we are building are too big. You drive around some Perth suburbs and see so many trophy homes,” Mr Alcock said.

He suggested that an environmental levy could be introduced over any new residential buildings constructed over a certain size.

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